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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Binge-watching increasingly popular: poll

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TORONTO -- Canadians' growing appetite for binging on episodes of their favourite TV shows represents a "transformational" trend that's shaking up the industry, says Rogers, which released the results of an online poll suggesting that 81 per cent of respondents watched three or more episodes of a series during a viewing marathon in the past year.

In the poll of 1,275 Canadians conducted by Head Research, viewers were asked how many episodes of a show they went through consecutively during a binge-watching session on a weeknight or on a weekend.

The average during the week was four straight episodes; 4.6 on weekends.

The figures weren't surprising to David Purdy, Rogers' senior vice-president of content, who said binge viewing is a major trend the company is paying close attention to.

"We're kind of in the beginning of what we think is a major transformational stage in the TV world, so we have a ton of questions and we're doing a lot of research these days," said Purdy.

When asked how many episodes of a show they watched consecutively during a viewing binge, the respondents who were 34 and younger averaged 5.4 episodes on a weeknight and 6.6 episodes on a weekend. Among those 55 and older, averages were 3.2 on a weeknight and 3.3 episodes on a weekend.

"We've heard loud and clear that 15- to 25-year-olds want to consume content differently than their parents did so this has been a real focus for us."

Purdy said the company is looking to address the trend by rolling out a Netflix-type on-demand service that would be sold as an add-on to a monthly subscription.

The growing availability of online video content has contributed to the so-called "cord cutter" trend, referring to consumers who have cancelled their cable TV subscriptions because they find enough content to watch via the Internet or free over-the-air signals.

Then there are "cord nevers," young consumers who have never paid for a TV plan and perhaps never will. Purdy said the cord-never trend is growing and is a legitimate threat.

"I definitely believe that if we don't evolve our products and services -- the way we have been and are planning to continue to do so -- that 'cord nevers' are a very real risk."

The online poll was conducted between April 3 and 8. Online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 14, 2013 D4

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